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Monday, September 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A&E >  Entertainment

Perhaps The Joke Is Really On The ‘Mallrats’ Audience

By Chris Hewitt St. Paul Pioneer Press

There’s at least one joke for every bodily excretion in “Mallrats,” a raucous comedy that hits more often than it misses.

Most of the jokes can’t be repeated here, but the key to “Mallrats” is writer/director Kevin Smith, who concocts the same kind of stylized dialogue that kept the crude “Clerks” on its toes: His characters look like they just stepped out of a music video, but they have the sense and sensibility of Jane Austen.

Here’s Shannen Doherty describing her new boyfriend to her ex-squeeze: “He’s a much more suitable companion than you, anyway.” Jason Lee, defining a New Jersey mall’s food court: “Anything out of said square is considered an autonomous unit for midmall snacking.” And Lee again, offering counsel to a friend: “Haven’t I made it abundantly clear during the tenure of our friendship that I don’t know (anything)?”

Smith’s writing boasts an ingenious, nut ball rhythm, and it has the same effect as the unique cadences of Shakespeare or Damon Runyan - these people look familiar, but the way they talk suggests they’re more interesting than they seem.

That’s where Smith lets us down. “Mallrats” is amusing, but there’s actually less to it than meets the eye. The story is a simple boy-loses-girl/ boy-realizes-he-blew-it plot involving two young couples who break up, go malling and eventually find their way back to each other.

Not to be your seventh-grade English teacher or anything, but that also suggests a Shakespearean comedy such as “As You Like It,” subbing a mall for a magical forest. But “Mallrats” has as much substance as a Spencer’s Gifts store. Smith isn’t really interested in the two couples - he’s more concerned with setting up vulgar, often funny jokes about security guards, love in an elevator, passing gas and trying to make heads or tails of those infuriating Magic Eye things.

About half the cast doesn’t seem to get the joke. Lee, a Keanu Reeves look-alike making his movie debut, has fun with Smith’s tricky dialogue, as does Doherty. But, as Lee’s best friend, Jeremy London has trouble with it, and all the supposedly sincere characters in “Mallrats” end up looking like dopes. Or, maybe, people who’ve been hanging out at Orange Julius just a little too long.

MEMO: These sidebars appeared with the story: “MALLRATS” Location: Lincoln Heights, North Division and Showboat cinemas Credits: Directed by Kevin Smith; starring Jason Lee, Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London, Claire Forlani, Michael Rooker, Priscilla Barnes Running time: 1:37 Rating: R

OTHER VIEWS Here’s what other critics say about “Mallrats”: Michael Rechtshaffen/The Hollywood Reporter: While it may not be a direction “Clerks” fans had been hoping for and is definitely not to everybody’s taste, this movie mall crawl should still hold some considerable appeal for the younger, “Clueless” crowd…. Smith opts for a crude and cartoonish style here - Looney Tunes meets R. Crumb - and a dialogueheavy script that requires its lead characters to deliver lines with Gatling gun intensity. Bob Thomas/Associated Press: How can a reviewer write about a movie that makes “Dumb and Dumber” seem like a Merchant-Ivory production? When even the title could be a turnoff for potential ticket buyers? It’s called “Mallrats.”

These sidebars appeared with the story: “MALLRATS” Location: Lincoln Heights, North Division and Showboat cinemas Credits: Directed by Kevin Smith; starring Jason Lee, Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London, Claire Forlani, Michael Rooker, Priscilla Barnes Running time: 1:37 Rating: R

OTHER VIEWS Here’s what other critics say about “Mallrats”: Michael Rechtshaffen/The Hollywood Reporter: While it may not be a direction “Clerks” fans had been hoping for and is definitely not to everybody’s taste, this movie mall crawl should still hold some considerable appeal for the younger, “Clueless” crowd…. Smith opts for a crude and cartoonish style here - Looney Tunes meets R. Crumb - and a dialogueheavy script that requires its lead characters to deliver lines with Gatling gun intensity. Bob Thomas/Associated Press: How can a reviewer write about a movie that makes “Dumb and Dumber” seem like a Merchant-Ivory production? When even the title could be a turnoff for potential ticket buyers? It’s called “Mallrats.”

Wordcount: 534
Tags: movie review

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